Business Valuation for a Strategic Exit Plan

Unlock the potential of your business with a strategic exit plan. Learn how to maximize value, safeguard assets, and plan for a prosperous future.

Linda Ratner
March 21, 2024

In the realm of business, where the stakes are high and the outcomes deeply personal, a single truth emerges: most business owners have a significant portion—up to 80% of their net worth—intimately tied to their company. This reality presents a stark contrast to many employees who may enjoy diversified investment portfolios, and as such, it underscores a risk-heavy investment strategy for entrepreneurs.

This understanding demands a shift in perspective, a new way to view business vitality and investment appeal. The majority of owners are at risk of never fully realizing the value of their life's work—a value that can be shared with the dedicated employees who have contributed to the company's success. Yet, not realizing the value doesn't have to be the case.

Business Valuation for a Strategic Exit Plan

As a seasoned business coach and certified exit planner, my mission is to guide entrepreneurs and their teams through the intricate process of scaling their businesses. By harnessing the power of established methodologies like EOS and Scaling Up, along with the Predictive Index and strategies for value building and exiting, I work collaboratively with leaders to unlock the potential within their companies.

This journey is not just about aligning your team with the company's vision or optimizing customer relationships for profit; it's about constructing a solid foundation for scalable growth and nurturing a dynamic company culture. In doing so, we safeguard what you currently possess and mitigate risks, setting the stage for your future endeavors.

This expedition begins with identification—a clear-eyed assessment of where you stand today. It's an exploration that delves into three distinct yet interconnected gaps:

  • The Wealth Gap: The difference between your present net worth and the amount you need to retire comfortably while maintaining your desired lifestyle.
  • The Value Gap: The range of trading multiples for your industry, where higher is better.
  • The Profit Gap: The spectrum of profit margins within your industry, from average to top performers.

Grasping these gaps for you and your business is pivotal; it's not merely about the figures but about a profound comprehension of your business's intrinsic market worth. Echoing Chris Snider's insights from his book Walking to Destiny, this baseline sets the stage for every subsequent step.

First, we need to identify Value and where your business benchmarks in the range of value, which sets the baseline for everything going forward. This is important for several reasons. First, as you know, it is likely that 80% of your net worth is locked in your business. Second, you need a system that is built to continuously focus your team on maximizing value. Third, the ability to unlock that value at some point in the future will make a significant difference to your lifestyle and at exit will fund your next act. Last, you need to know this valuation number for business planning, personal planning, and estate and tax planning purposes.

Understanding where your business stands in terms of value is not just an exercise; it's a critical step in strategic business planning. Knowing your business's value, and the range of multiples investors might offer, provides a clear starting point.

Why Is This Important?

Net Worth Insight

Recognizing that a significant portion of your net worth is tied up in your business is eye-opening. It shifts perspectives and priorities, emphasizing the importance of maximizing value—not just for the owner but for the entire team. Understanding your current net worth and what you need for your next act (also known as your “Wealth Gap”) is imperative when it comes to making personal and business decisions.

The work I do today is fueled by the passion I have to help business owners and their teams reach their goals.  My personal experience with selling my company without fully understanding its potential taught me the importance of being aware of the Profit and Value gaps, and it's a lesson I bring passionately to my clients and their teams. Actively managing your "Wealth Gap" is critical for informed decision-making in both personal and business spheres.

Strategic Focus

A valuation sets a clear target for the entire team. It's about aligning every department and function towards a common goal—increasing the business's value.  Once your Value and Profit Gaps are known, you can leverage the drivers that increase, then exponentially increase the return on your investment.                      

Future Lifestyle and Exit Planning

The ultimate goal for many business owners isn't just to grow their business but to ensure it contributes to their desired lifestyle and retirement plans. Moreover, they seek to honor their employees' loyalty by sharing the success. Knowledge of your business's worth is essential for shaping your future and that of your employees.

Essential for Planning

Whether for business growth, personal financial planning, or preparing for future transitions, understanding your company's valuation is foundational.

The 4 C’s

As we delve into the journey of business valuation and growth, we must recognize that 80% of a company's value lies beyond its tangible assets or financial performance. This is what we at the Exit Planning Institute refer to as the 4 Cs: Customer, Human, Structural, and Social Capital. These are the intangible assets that form the bedrock of a company's potential and sustainability. They are the keystones that hold the power to unlock a business's latent value, driving not only its current performance but also its future growth and scalability.

Human Capital: This encompasses the caliber and strength of your team's competencies, their execution ability, decision-making and prioritization skills, innovative capabilities, enthusiasm, integrity, resilience, intellect, and the capacity to operate effectively even in the owner's absence.

Customer Capital: This refers to the depth and quality of your connections with your customers and business partners.

Structural Capital: This is about the robustness of your organizational framework, encompassing your business strategies, operational systems, internal processes, resource allocation, and the financial architecture that supports and enhances both your Customer and Human Capital.

Social Capital: This represents the strength of your company's culture, including the shared values, beliefs, and practices that foster a cohesive and productive workplace environment.

Even if the sale of your business is the furthest thing from your mind, recognize that the right exit strategy is an optimized business strategy as it ensures that every aspect of your business is tuned for peak performance. A well-constructed strategy places your operational efficiency, market standing, and financial vitality at the forefront of your measurable growth plans.

In the upcoming series of articles, we will navigate deeper into the remaining stages of the Value Maturity Index—Protect, Build, Manage, and Harvest—and investigate their synergy with the foundational elements of Customer, Human, Structural, and Social Capitals. These stages are instrumental in advancing your company toward heightened efficiency, efficacy, profitability, and a dynamic organizational culture. Yet, the journey of transformation begins with the 'Identify' stage, where we establish a precise baseline that will anchor and guide our strategic progression.

The Assessment: Your First Step

Initiating this journey with a professional and independent valuation might seem daunting, but it's a critical investment in your business's future. This assessment not only provides a baseline but also sets the stage for continuous improvement. When I work with my clients, we revisit and reassess to ensure our strategies are increasing their business's value, validating their investment in this process.

To get the ball rolling and set the foundation for your business's growth journey, I invite you to take this crucial first step with me. Let's conduct this assessment, identify your business's current value, and chart a course towards maximizing that value.

Ready to unlock the true value of your business? Contact me today ( to schedule your business valuation assessment and start your journey towards increased business value and personal wealth. Mention Team Engine and I will provide the preliminary assessment at no cost to you.

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